Kenya: Kenyatta, Odinga Close Ranks, Preach Peace and Unity
After a protracted political impasse between the leaders of opposition and ruling parties in Kenya, both leaders have come together to mend fences ‘in the interest of the country.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga met Friday in an apparent effort to settle months of violent post-election tensions. The meeting came just hours before a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
This meeting may facilitate government’s reconciliation with opposition figures such as Miguna Miguna who was ‘deported’ to Canada after his role in the mock inauguration of Odinga
Kenyatta and Odinga agreed to work toward unifying the country after last year’s divisive presidential election.
The VoA said the two after their meeting, appeared together to give separate statements to the press but did not take questions – acknowledged the country was heading in the wrong direction.
Odinga, had refused to recognize Kenyatta as president, and instead accepted overtures and was inaugurated by opposition elements as a parallel president to Kenyatta.
But today, Odinga paraphrased U.S. president Abraham Lincoln, saying that Kenyans needed to know where they are and where they want to go before they can better judge what to do and how to do it.
“Fifty-four years since independence, we are challenged to audit our progress toward the ideals for which our fathers fought to establish a free and independent country and for which many of our compatriots died.”
As leaders, said Odinga, they had a duty to reflect on their performance in reaching Kenya’s goals since independence: justice, unity, peace, liberty and prosperity for all.
Kenyatta said the two men came to a common understanding that for Kenya to come together, its leaders must come together.
“And this is what me and my brother have agreed,” Kenyatta said, referring to Odinga. “That starting today, we will begin a process of bringing our people together. That we will begin a process discussing what ails us and what creates division amongst us.”
On the streets of Nairobi, Kenyans also welcomed the leaders’ agreeing to work together.
“It’s a really good step towards harmonizing the country,” said Brian Wanjoki. “Because the electioneering period has left us divided … supporters of both sides. So, I think it’s a really good idea that they’ve met. And, hopefully we can progress from this.”
Another man, Philip Ndung’u, also seemed encouraged by the leaders’ meeting.
Noting “the economy has been down,” Ndung’u said if the two “resolve their issues, well, at least it will show that we are moving forward and the issue to do with the election is it behind us.”
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, left, and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta pose for photographers after meeting at the State House in Nairobi, March 9, 2018.